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Saturday, April 28, 2012

ALOE VERA NEEDS ATTENTION

Something which has not enjoyed its legitimate position in the fraternity of medicinal herbs is the modest Aloe Vera. It has been used for centuries in India for its curative properties to heal burns, wounds, acne, eczema and many other skin problems. There was a time when every household in India grew it in pots or beds in their yards; both as an ornamental plant and as an herb. I remember seeing broken clay water pitchers, standing on their necks, being used to grow this wondrous plant. In the event of some injury or burn there was no doctor to go to but the potted physician was always available near at hand and its gel was used as a dressing.

Aloe Vera is a succulent plant with long thick leaves and grows fast in tropical climate of North India. Though it had remained in oblivion for long but now its medicinal properties have been recognized and researches are being undertaken to comprehend its  composition and its value as an herbal cure for many ailments.

It is especially advantageous for treating and repairing skin damage, scarring, sunburn and aging skin conditions. It promotes natural healing and has no side effects. And its gel is applied to reduce chafing, itching and for its cooling effect. At present when alternative medical systems to treat diseases are being given due importance, Aloe Vera's popularity is in the ascendancy. Shop isles are filled with products containing Aloe Vera as one of the constituents. It is being used widely by cosmetics manufacturing companies. The branded body lotions, face creams, moisturizers, body soaps, baby wipes, facial tissues and hand washes, all profess to contain Aloe.

However, these fancy products cost a lot. In fact you can grow Aloe at home. Just plant one stalk, with roots and in a short period of time it will multiply. The simplest way to use it is to cut off (with a knife) a leaf from the base, trim its sides to remove prickles and split it into halves exposing the flesh. Rub the halves one by one on your skin, starting from face and going down to your feet, heels and toes before taking bath. Its watery gel tightens the skin and repairs cells with its nutrients and minerals. It leaves the skin soft and silky. Its regular use can do wonders to improve the tone and texture of the skin. This apart, scoop the flesh and store it in an air tight container in the fridge to be used when needed.

Its juice is available here in Ayurvedic stores which can be taken orally first thing in the morning by diluting it with water for stimulating digestive system and detoxifying the body. (People taking other medications should consult their doctor).

My mother was very particular about growing aloe in the kitchen garden. She used to cook its chunks with the peel on like any other vegetable for stomach disorders.

It is known to work as a hair tonic also. Put its flesh in the blender to liquefy it and fill bottles and keep them in the fridge. About an hour before hair bath, rub the liquid gently in hair partings and wait for it to work on your scalp. It lubricates the hair roots and helps in hair growth by controlling dandruff and dryness. But a regimen has to be followed regularly for sustained results.

Aloe Vera is nature’s free gift with marvellous health benefits.
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courtesy: Google images
 
Friends, your comments'll be appreciated.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

MY GREEN THUMB


There was a time when I was an enthusiastic gardening lover; an interest which I inherited from my father who looked after a healthy kitchen garden in the backyard of our Chandigarh house. The power of the Mother Earth and the recognition that it sustains multitudes of creatures in its fold got imbibed within me slowly as I evolved into a deeply conscious individual. I recall my father instructing the gardener and also lending him a helping hand. Memories are a reservoir of impressions, which connect us to the past, shape us into who we are and become our essence over time.

Egged on by these fleeting remembrances, I managed to set up a kitchen garden in our own house after marriage. In those days the gardener entrusted to us by the university was an experienced hand in growing vegetables. In the afternoons, hot sun notwithstanding, I’d take a round of the yard to note the jobs to be done for the gardener’s next visit.


After we shifted to our own house later, this practice continued. I recall the picture perfect carrots, radishes, turnips, fresh coriander leaves and round aubergines ( the reward of our efforts) and also the pests I used to kill by examining leaves. Those were the days….can’t help going nostalgic about the glorified experiences.

Now with depleted energy levels and paucity of dedicated gardeners (who’d take pleasure and pride in their creation) I can maintain only an apology of a garden.




 buds, a day before opening up
 In spite of all these discouragements I still indulge in growing flowering plants and take care of a few potted beauties. Twice a year I add cow dung manure which my gardener supplies. I’ll just share some titbits with you regarding my little efforts to stay connected with flora.

 


 


I love cactus for its exoticism and grow  one (pin cushion) which I’ve had for a long time. I prize it for its gorgeously delicate and short lived mauve colored flowers and its hardiness in standing extreme temperature.

A healthily growing curry leaves bush, whose sensual aroma gets rubbed on me as I pass by it during my scheduled morning tête-à-tête with each plant. It stands  like a ramrod regality. Its flavourful tender leaves lend a finger licking relish to rice pulao, Indian curry dish and other vegetables which I cook by sautéing.



Lily, growing in beds and by the driveway wall starts flowering in the beginning of April and spreads its crimson charm, making our stepping out like a red carpet welcome. A visual feast no doubt!

A few hollyhocks which surface every year by themselves in February  are adorned with purple blooms in my backyard, thronged by bees.

Then four bougainvilleas bushes – pink and white, yellow, magenta and purple, enliven the area across our boundary wall in the company of three sturdy, towering trees which shelter my loving birds and keep the air clean (two of them Neem).

Most of the flowering plants are perennial and remain green if watered regularly. There are few decorative plants also which don’t give flowers but create a green space the whole year.

A small mint bed thrives after winter. It is a very useful herb for preparing green chutney to spice the snacks or as a side little something for a normal meal. Its leaves chopped finely garnish soups and shakes. Mint leaves boiled in a cup of water and taken with a pinch of salt ease stomach cramps and aid digestion.

I try my wee bit to create Eco friendly surroundings.

This is my garden in a nut shell affording me a chance to keep my date with nature.
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Dear friends,welcome to add anything to the above via comments.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

CUCKOO'S SONG



Last year I wrote a piece about my soul mate cuckoo, but that was during rainy season, when her presence is pronounced. But I can’t help penning paeans to her persona again, after hearing her sweet voice a few days back. As the buds on the neighbour’s mango tree grew into tiny mangoes, I was certain that cuckoo is on its way from some mysterious abode of hers. There is some eerie connection of the cuckoo with the mango tree in its glistening glory, starting from the advent of spring. Cuckoo’s internal clock is geared perfectly to appear in our midst around April, when the atmosphere is crisp, breezy and refreshingly cool.

Her daily visits to our area are perfectly timed. Early morning I open my door and go to bed again, to wait for her call. That is the hour when I get to hear a crescendo of chirping, twittering and host of other bird sounds on the three towering trees across our house. It is like an orchestra where synchronization has gone hay wire. But even then the sounds appeal because of their distinctness. I feel blessed in the luxurious state of waking up while taking my time to get up. It is then, that I hear cuckoo ‘s mellifluous coo coo which cheers me and my inner being feels like shouting, how wonderful it is to be alive on such a superb morning!

The pitch of her song indicates that she is at a distance hidden in thick foliage of some tree. Her melodious song stands out above the cacophony of other avian families. Her sonorous voice is that of an expert vocalist, starts on a slow note, gains an effortless pitch and slows down again, to end on a perfect note. Her voice has depth, energy and resonance. If you are a bird lover you can’t simply miss the rich quality of her voice. These days her singing spells are short, sometimes just a couple of stanzas and sometimes just a couplet. It is only in the rainy season when she sings in full throat-ed abandon.

Her dulcet voice echoes in the rustling leaves in the cool of the mornings, though she is hardly ever seen. She perches undisturbed, hidden in a lavish spread, a perfect setting for singing her lyrical melodies. Her singing evokes  many emotions. It has the potential of many interpretations, if it can be put to that test. And perhaps she conveys something as mystifying as the nature of life or perhaps she is pining for her lover inviting him through her harmonious ditty to melt his churlish response.

Cuckoo’s musical notes brimmed with romance and magic surge up amazing emotions in the human heart.

courtesy: Google image

Sunday, April 15, 2012

PRAYERS DO GET ANSWERED



Some of us have absolute trust in God. We wonder how God steers the wheels of universal phenomenon so magnificently?
Belief in God is experienced on an intuitively private mental plane. It is completely subjective. It is like forging a relationship with God and having Him as an ally in all your ventures. A believer keeps company with the creator through various mediums.
Faith builds confidence:
The question often asked is- if God is our saviour then why our lives are beset with innumerable challenges. God does it on purpose. In fact, faith symbolizes moral courage and resilience in the face of adversity. He leads our success for the right causes by cultivating within us the quality of determination through self confidence. If we don’t succeed, it is due to our impatience for quick results.
Man needs God’s intervention:
God has granted man the sharpest intellect and the ability to solve most of his problems. In spite of our well developed faculties man still is the most vulnerable creature on earth, emotionally as well as physically and needs some faith or affirmation to go on with life.
Praying helps:
One medium of having a commune with God is through a sincere prayer which works psychologically. The very act of praying happens because you believe that God is on your side and will listen to you. The belief generates positive energy and zeal and goads you to put in all your efforts in whatever you do. The situations which seemed invincible are tackled because of perseverance and confidence that He will affirm your prayer.
A personal experience:
Many many years ago, a genuine and fervent prayer rescued us out of a seemingly insoluble situation. One such intense prayer in the course of which, your whole being merges with the image of the Almighty, utter humility replaces ego, you feel cleansed, the stress of the situation melts away through a pure revelation and everything falls in place.
Trip to Shimla:
We had gone to Shimla during holidays and were having a gala time enjoying outdoor activities with our son and daughter. In between we decided to go to Mashobra a beautiful small town situated about ten km away from Shimla. After reaching there we explored the lush green forest cover and water courses hidden here and there. When our children got tired we came back to where our car was parked. The kids wanted to be left in the car. They got the keys to unlock it and were given special instruction not to lock it. We started walking nearby, busy in gazing at the mountains. (In those days there was no rush on the roads and hardly any car was visible.)
Unexpected happened:
After we had done with mountain gazing and a good walk, we decided to join our children to go back to Shimla. We neared the parked car and found the kids busy reading ‘Tin Tin in America’ which was our son’s favourite. When my better half asked for car keys both of them showed ignorance. They simply did not remember where they kept the keys. You can imagine the ordeal which followed. Inside of the car was searched hundred times. Every nook and corner of the area was rummaged with utmost attention by four of us but no sign of the keys. Hubby was livid with anger as no solution was in sight. How could we leave the car there? We talked about the possibility of hubby going to Patiala to fetch the spare key. Luckily we had given one house key to our neighbour and the other was in the bunch which was lost.
Light after the dark:
In utter frustration of our failure to locate the keys, I entered the car and sat down on the back seat. The trio was still groping in the grass around the place. I closed my eyes with a feeling of indescribable helplessness. I started praying. Soon I felt detached from the now and merged with some holy presence and simultaneously glided into a state of tranquillity. I requested the unseen presence to help us out. I forgot where I was, being totally immersed in the act of praying and complete stillness inside. I don’t recall how much time I stayed in that meditative state. When I opened my eyes my gaze fell on the sun visor above the steering wheel. I got up and spread my arm to lower the shade and lo the bunch of keys was lying there snugly.


My prayer was answered through a soulful experience.


Image courtesy: awakenedanew.com

Sunday, April 8, 2012

THINK MY THOUGHTS WITH ME ,PLEASE

Flowers are life blood of creativity.
Internet has plethora of sites espousing how, what and when, of almost everything on the planet. Though I too make forays into the realm of health issues, geriatric well being and sundry subjects, but I feel my information won’t add to, what is already available on the web.

LIFE'S RICHNESS Rather, I prefer to dwell on the infinite avatars of life itself, which never fail to stun or stir. Purely delving into this field of oceanic proportions in one’s own signature style, throws an intellectual challenge. The choice of a particular tributary of that ocean to ponder over, happens at any time and brain remains set to receive it. Out of the blue, the thought intrudes into grey cells, takes shape and comes alive on the blank page as follows.

HOW CHANGE HAPPENS? : Reminiscences of the past calendar of your life merging with the here and now bring forth interesting observations. Contrary to popular belief, I believe people do change. The change is not  like a waterfall, suddenly coming into existence somewhere, after a heavy downpour in the hills. Here the change is deliberate, conscious, slow and steady and teaches you to adjust to the shifting truths of every day life. In my late sixties now, I know how this change has come about. The journey of this change has been flavored with bitter sweet happenings, moulding my character in between, cautioning me along the way about the fragility of human relations and about the power of the spoken word which can make or break relationships.

Yes, certainly confidence has declined, beleaguered by challenging circumstances in the course of life‘s multifarious roles, as a full time professional, as a wife and as a mother. But now being a proud grandma is one of the greatest joys of my life.

LIFE'S LYRICS: Protected and loved in childhood and adolescence, college lecturer at twenty two, marriage….. children…..the pain of bursting of myths of mushy romance, lived during heavenly gossip sessions in the lawns of GCG Chandigarh, during free periods… secret crying on the pillow or on the garage roof under starlit nights….. angry reactions squelched by umpteen considerations….. writing personal poems to blurt out the suppressed emotional deluge and finally gaining a state of stoicism via falling and balancing. The journey’s cobbled path with a few roses thrown here and there enshrined within me the capacity to celebrate the fragrance of those roses by putting them in the vase of memories. Life as such is no undiluted lyrical ballad, it is an epic poem with some sweet pains and numerous heart aches. Life’s lyrics get written every day.

Amidst the practicalities and choking compromises of life, you cling to the memory of those creatively thrilling precious moments which shine like a lighthouse through rough terrains.

There are yet tasks to be accomplished and lived for, and I try to attend to my physicality, to ensure its support for as long as possible.

SEARCH FOR WONDERS : I seek the wonders like that of the spider’s web, which surfaces suddenly with its fragile weave hanging on balcony railing one fine morning. Where is the place for resentments and excesses of any kind to squander this jewel of life...? One has to resurrect the special celebratory vignettes to walk alongside stealthily to merge in the here and now.

SHUN PROCRASTINATION :The villain of the piece is the satanic crutches of moodiness pulling you down in the mire of procrastination and allowing tedious lethargy to set in upsetting the ‘apple cart’ of joy. The battle within to stomp over the dead wood of passivity and inch towards some goal with child like curiosity will hopefully continue till the last breath.

Dear friends, welcome to comment on what you think of the above.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

RELAXING MOMENTS WITH MY PARK BUDDIES


In the prevailing atmosphere of cynicism, despondency and disillusionment, I cherish the blessed moments I spend in the company of the creatures who frequent my signature park, a stone’s throw away from my house. This park interestingly, has been the inspiration for a few of my write ups.

I love the cheerful creatures who visit my fancy park every morning. Their sight and sounds not only provide audio visual pleasure but also a lesson or two for achieving relaxation for our overstressed lives. I remain enamoured and overwhelmed by their personas: crystal clear and fully transparent, no hidden motives or intrigues; they are themselves all the time. They don’t care about my presence or for that matter anybody else’s, and keep on doing merrily what they want to do. They are happy- go- lucky and exude gaiety and cheer as they bend their tiny heads and forage for food in the grassy ground. Their occasional chirpings while in the act are perhaps comments on the quality of seeds or worms or thanking the gardener for clearing up the area with his lawn mower and making it easier to locate the fare.

I adore the peace loving doves and carefree larks. Larks look simple and noncombative.They don’t seem to attract any predators and that perhaps is the reason of their burgeoning numbers. These busybodies are always in the look out for grubs for themselves and their young ones. So many times I see them strutting proudly with a worm hanging from their beaks, searching for a lonely corner to relish the delicacy. They are Gandhian in their approach and absolutely nonviolent and fair. I enjoy their company everyday in the morning and admire their open and nonchalant bearing.

But their simple exteriors are deceptive .The other day I saw a pair romancing by locking their beaks in foreplay.

The other group is that of grey colored babblers who create a frenzy on the branches trees before descending in droves on the ground. They stay near each other while pecking and their babble is simply blah blah without any musical trace to it. Their sheer number coupled with their noisy presence is always overwhelming.

A pair of healthy looking pigeons, with their well rounded middles lends a joyful sight. One or two blackbirds with their harsh sounding caw caw and a couple of doves cooing coolly on the electric wires overhead make their presence felt. The wood pecker: brown with polka dotted exterior lands hurriedly and after quick pickings flies away. Some other birds like parakeets, koel and crested grey sparrows make a supervisory stopover once in a while and fly away in a rush.

The other presence which catches my attention is that of small butterflies white and multi coloured flitting here and there. Honey bees buzzing constantly; keep encircling the flower beds before settling on the chosen ones.

But my all time favorites are the squirrels. They caper and romp from tree to tree in gay abandon and look charming and cheerful donning striped coat of silver and dark grey and their tails moving coquettishly behind them. Their sprightly nimble movements give the impression as if they are powered by some magical nectar, so intoxicated they seem all the time. They are gregarious and fun loving and are spotted chasing each other as if playing some game. Off and on I see them with straws and shreds of rags in their mouths climbing the trees to build their dreys. Removed from the nitty gritty of life, though for a short time, I participate in their merriment their positivity and their openness.

On coming home I feel my body and my mind in sync with each other and a sweet calmness enveloping me in its fold.

Images courtesy: We for animals/India nature watch.